Working from home – how to make it work.


No commuting, no early starts, no suits or heels and no-one breathing down your neck – what is there not to like about working from home?

Whilst the majority of us who have been confined to our abodes for the indeterminate future start out with positive thoughts, it doesn’t take long for reality to set in.

Working from home is often not all it is cracked up to be.

Here are some less common traps you need to watch out for:

  1. Connectedness – it won’t take long before you realise how much you miss the interaction with your workmates. Even if it is just the 5 minute recap of last nights MAFS episode or the weekly ribbing when your team loses. We aren’t built for isolation and it doesn’t take long for loneliness to kick in.
  2. Change of scenery – cabin fever is a reality. When you work from home you actually have to make an effort to change your scenery. You didn’t realise that going to work each day forces you to have different interactions and outlooks.
  3. Separation between work and leisure – the guilts can kick in when you choose a leisure activity over a work activity at home… which is now your workplace. When you work in an office you are less likely to feel guilty about not working when you are at home.
  4. Paranoia sets in – you start misreading written communications and have false conversations with bosses and colleagues who typically give you visual clues as to how they are feeling and thinking. Without visual clues your mind is free to wander.

Fortunately there are some key concepts you can employ to make the most of the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in.

  1. High Performance – understand what high performance looks like in the conditions you find yourself. This will give you something to work towards each day. I don’t mean the outcomes you want. I mean performance, which is the ‘stuff you do to get the outcomes you want’. You must know exactly what great home performance looks like.
  2. Be disciplined – stick to a schedule based on time not output. Set yourself a two hour limits. You are more likely to stick to time limits than task completion goals which often leaves things open ended. When goals are open ended it is easy to be distracted and do something more fun.
  3. Check in – check in everyday with your team and colleagues. Preferably to do this via phone or video conference. You’ll feel better when you know that they know how much work you are getting done.
  4. Set yourself up – create a work space where you can’t see the dishes in the sink or the laundry piled up. You don’t need these distractions, especially if you are a clean freak.
  5. Set boundaries – other people at home must respect the fact that you are working. In my house if the door is shut I am working, if its open, feel free to drop by for a chat.

Working from home will test your mental resolve in many ways. Understanding and using some good resilience techniques like choosing your attitude, gratitude and personal responsibility will help you make the best of the situation. And never forget the importance of focusing on performance more than outcomes. This is the secret to high performance at home and in the office.


If you and your colleagues would like a video conference detailing the concepts of high performance and resilience applicable to working from home, please let us know. We have presentations ranging from 30 minutes to half a day which can be delivered in a variety of formats.

About the author

Nathan  Burke started his career as a school teacher before the demands of elite level football took over. After a 20 year career as player and coach with the St Kilda F.C Nathan moved into the world of consultancy where his talents in the field of leadership, culture and high performance have served him and his clients well.

Nathan is currently the Head Coach of Western Bulldogs AFLW team.